From agave to yucca: more from the Danger Garden
Remember this song from the 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun?
Highway to the danger zone
Right into the danger zone
Highway to the danger zone
Gonna take you right into the danger zone
Substitute "danger zone" with "Danger Garden" and you have the theme song of Loree Bohl's popular blog. After all, its motto is "Careful, you can poke an eye out."
As I said in this post, I didn't lose an eye or any other vital body part while exploring Loree's front garden on my mid-September trip to Portland, Oregon. But more danger lurks around the back, behind this impressive agave gate designed by Loree's artist husband Andrew (read more about the gate here).
But before we step through the gate, let's take a look at the grouping of plants against the side of the house:
Combining tomatoes and herbs with agaves is classic Loree:
Also note the hanging planters on the garage wall (on the left in the photo below). Loree just brought them inside for the winter. Click here to see what she replaced them with.
Bringing together plants from very different geographical regions and climates, the back garden defies easy categorization. It's a desert garden, an exotic garden and a shade garden; there's a stock tank with fish and there are carnivorous plants. And there is a huge collection of pots—most on the ground, some on tables, others hanging in trees and on walls. All of it is an expression of Loree's unique vision and creativity.
|Looking towards the house, with the garage on the right|
|LEFT: Circle Pot from Potted under Clifford, the big-leaf magnolia RIGHT: Chartreuse pot from Gainey Ceramics (unfortunately out of business now) with Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls'|
|Bromeliad trellis next to the garage|
|"Bulletin board" planters with Begonia 'Curly Fireflush' and Dichondra argentea (click here for more information on how Loree created them)|
|The section known as "agaveland" with two of Loree's dish planters (click here to find out how she made them and here for a 2017 update)|
|Shade garden against the garage wall|
|Shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia)|
|Rice-paper plant (Tetrapanax papyrifer)|
The juxtaposition of large-leafed plants and spiky succulents is what makes the Danger Garden so exciting to me. And even within one category—leafy or spiky—there's a tremendous amount of textural contrast.
|Yucca rostrata (nicknamed Sammy) and Nolina 'La Siberica'|
|View towards the patio and the shade pavilion (left)|
|Patio surrounded by an amazing collection of plants, both potted and in the ground. Loree's garden is full of botanical curiorisities and it takes time to discover them all.|
|View from the patio towards the house (straight ahead), lawn (left), and garage (right)|
|Each plant is interesting on its own, but Loree's knack for arranging plants so they contrast and complement each other takes this to the next level|
|Three Mexican fencepost cactus (Pachycereus marginatus) paired with four Euphorbia horrida 'Snowflake'—this is a combination I must recreate myself|
|Looking towards the stock tank pond|
|I'm beginning to repeat myself, but these are simply amazing plants|
|Take a look at those metal containers! The next time I'm in Portland, I'll ask Loree to take me to some of the places where she finds treasures like that.|
|While there are other kinds of plants as well, Loree's love of agaves shines through|
|Agave ovatifolia is a real eye catcher here|
|Cluster of pots on the patio table|
|Look at that impressive Agave utahensis var. eborispina in the back!|
|The botanical wonders never end in the Danger Garden. Aloe dorotheae on the right is a stunner. Yes, it is that red!|
|Looking back towards the house (top left) and garage (top center), with the shade pavilion on the right|
|This Agave lophantha 'Splendida' in the funnel is still one my favorite potted combo|
|More potted beauties as we turn towards the shade pavilion|
The next photo offers a full view of the shade pavilion. In the winter it becomes a greenhouse for plants that need to be protected from the rain and/or cold. Read this post on the Danger Garden blog for details. The design and techniques Loree and her husband Andrew came up with are pure genius. I have no handy bone in my body, so I'm always in awe of people who are able to come up with creative solutions—and actually build them!
|Arrangements on the table inside the shade pavilion. Again, Loree's skillful juxtapositions blow my mind.|
|Ditto here. The Danger Garden is full of brilliant ideas come to life. And yet what you see above is just a brief moment in time. By now, this beautiful composition is long gone.|
|Bromeliads are another group of plants featuring prominently in the Danger Garden. These combos in tall metal tubes are killer. They are tender so the pots resting inside the tubes are lifted in the fall and moved into the basement.|
|So many textures playing off each other. The large-leafed plant in the stock tank on the right is Podophyllum pleianthum. The raised concrete slab in front of the stock tank is Loree's fern table.|
|Another view of the shade pavilion as we swivel to the right|
|Potted plants to the right of the shade pavilion and patio set|
|The color story—orange, black and gray containers, green and gray plants—is both vibrant and remarkably restrained. I simply wouldn't have the discipline to pull this off.|
|Agave applanata 'Cream Spike' in various combinations|
Since I was staying with Loree and Andrew during my visit, I had ample opportunity to explore the Danger Garden. But it still wasn't enough. Like a good book or movie, a visit to Loree's garden is a special treat that is over way too quickly.
- The Danger Garden (Loree's blog)
- Strolling into danger — Danger Garden, that is (Austin-based garden writer Pam Penick visiting the Danger Garden)
- Lessons from the Danger Garden (Toronto gardener and writer Helen Battersby on what inspired her)
- I visited the Danger Garden (again) and didn't get poked (my post on Loree's front garden in mid-September 2017)